President Donald Trump wants to know why his approval ratings on the coronavirus response aren’t as high as the administration’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“He’s got a very good approval rating,” Trump said of Fauci on Tuesday during a White House press briefing on the pandemic. “And I like that, it’s good, because remember, he’s working for this administration.”
“And he’s got this high approval rating,” Trump said, “So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration, with respect to the virus?”
The president had been asked about Twitter posts he retweeted on Monday evening accusing Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of misleading Americans.
“I don’t even know what his stance is on it,” Trump said when asked how Fauci was allegedly misleading Americans about hyroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that is unproven to be an effective treatment for Covid-19.
The posts have since been removed. But Trump has long been an advocate for hydroxychloroquine, and had even taken it himself as a prophylactic measure.
Fauci, however, has been more dismissive of the drug’s effectiveness against the coronavirus.
Fauci said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that clinical trials have overwhelmingly shown hydroxychloroquine “is not effective” in treating Covid-19.
“I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances,” Fauci added.
Despite being a part of the Trump administration, Fauci has recently been the target of criticism from within the White House. Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro penned an op-ed blasting Fauci for being “wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” And a White House official even circulated a list of Fauci’s alleged missteps that resembled an opposition research-type document used in political campaigns.
Still, Fauci continues to enjoy high approval ratings from public polls on his efforts against the pandemic. Nearly two -thirds of the country has faith in Fauci, according to a Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month.
Just over one-third of voters approve of Trump’s handling of the virus, that poll showed.
“We could have gotten other people, we could have gotten somebody else, it didn’t have to be Dr. Fauci,” Trump said at the presser on Tuesday evening. “He’s working with our administration, and for the most part, we’ve done pretty much what he and others, Dr. [Deborah] Birx and others, who are terrific, recommended.”
“It sort of is curious. A man works for us, with us, very closely, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, also highly thought of, and yet they’re highly thought of but nobody likes me,” Trump said.
“It can only be my personality. That’s all,” he added.
More than 4.3 million people in the U.S. have contracted Covid-19 and at least 148,298 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.